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Livestock farmers can pick up water

Lawrence County livestock farmers who need water can get a helping hose from West Virginia now.

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Lawrence County livestock farmers who need water can get a helping hose from West Virginia now.

West Virginia University Extension Service, Cabell County, W.Va., authorities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency teamed up this week to pump Ohio River water for cattle farmers who are facing drought conditions.

"The problem is a lot of the water sources we’ve got, even streams, are drying up and ponds, too," said John Marra, Cabell County’s WVU extension agent.

"This is an opportunity to know where to go to get free, quality water that goes to anybody," Marra said.

Cabell County emergency services has set pumps at the Guyandotte boat ramp, and will pump water free of charge to farmers who bring tanks, he said.

The water will be available, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 4-7 p.m.

Any Tri-State farmer with a tank can receive the water. Those without tanks can seek help from their county’s USDA Farm Service Agency or buy one of their own, Marra said.

Farmers in Lawrence County and neighboring areas have already begun selling off livestock because of the drought-induced lack of water and feed, said Ralph Crawford of Lawrence County Soil and Water.

Providing access to free water might keep some livestock farmers in business, Marra said.

The agencies received permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin the pumping program, because of the drought, Marra said.

Guidelines on the use of river water changed because of the drought and the USDA’s recent disaster declaration, he added. Normally, permits must be sought for such uses of the river.

"The water’s not for irrigation but for livestock," Marra said. "And we did it at Guyandotte because of the convenience."

The boat ramp is quickly accessed from the 31st Street bridge in Proctorville and the nearby West Virginia connector to Interstate 64, he said.

Marra added that Cabell County’s fast pumps are also a benefit to farmers who have already been hauling water.

Hand pumps or small pumps take time, if a farmer can find a well or creek accessible enough, he said.

Pumps at the Guyandotte boat ramp can pump 350 gallons per minute and have an adequate supply of water, he said.